BJP completes seat-sharing exercise in U.P.

NEW DELHI, JAN. 20. Barring three seats in which independents will be fielded, the BJP has completed its seat-sharing arrangement with its allies in Uttar Pradesh. It had earlier indicated it would contest 325 seats, leaving the rest to allies, but now it would be contesting 318 seats.

The party announced it had conceded 8 seats to Ram Vilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti and 6 to Maneka Gandhi's Shakti Dal, as against 5 and 3 being mentioned a few days ago.

Of a total of 403 Assembly segments in U.P., the BJP had already announced its candidates for 317, and today it announced its last candidate from Sonhai Assembly segment, taking the total to 318. It has conceded 37 to Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal, 13 to Sharad Yadav's Janata Dal (United), 8 to the Samata Party, 8 to the Lok Janshakti and 6 to the Shakti Dal. Including 3 independents, the total tally comes to 393.

It has also conceded 4 seats to the Loktantrik Congress, 4 to the Lok Parivartan Party and 2 to the Kisan Mazdoor Bahujan Party, taking the total to 403.

Although the BJP would like to avoid the so-called ``friendly contests'' it seems that some of the allies have indicated that they could support their own candidates as ``independents'' in some seats, thus indirectly going in for contests with their own major partner, the BJP.

It is being said in political circles that the BJP has deliberately not accommodated Mr. Paswan to the extent demanded by him (who was looking for over 40 seats), as it is viewing a post poll alliance with Mayawati of the Bahujan Samaj Party. The BSP cannot stomach Mr. Paswan whose party claims that it is in a position to dip into the Dalit vote bank support of the BSP. That may also be the reason why at least 3 of Mr. Paswan's men have been given seats on the BJP symbol.

The RLD still has a grouse over the Khekra segment (falling in Mr. Ajit Singh's Baghpat Lok Sabha seat) and maintains that the affronted `jats' will ensure his the BJP candidate's defeat.

The allies have agreed to a smaller share than earlier demanded for two reasons: they have their ministerial berths at the Centre and it is also true that their claims of a support base in U.P. were highly exaggerated.

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